The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

One dead, eight hospitalised at WHP opening weekend

32-year-old woman in coma after Friday 4th October show
Drug-testing initiative to take place at club

By and

One man died and eight more were hospitalised after taking drugs at the two opening nights of the Warehouse Project last week. A 32-year-old woman was also put into a medically-induced coma after falling ill at the club’s third event of the year on Friday 4th October.

The Warehouse Project are now working with the Home Office in setting up the first drug-testing initiative to feature in a UK club, as they revealed in a press conference on Wednesday 2nd October.

Nick Bonnie, 30, died in the early hours of Saturday morning after taking what police suspect was a bad batch of ‘ecstasy’, which he had purchased inside the venue. Four of his friends, who also took the drug inside the club, were admitted to hospital but all made full recoveries.

“He lost his life tragically, senselessly and needlessly on a lads’ weekend,” said his mother, Pauline Bonnie, a drugs rehabilitation worker. “We hope we may have gone some way in helping in the realisation that drinking and use of any illicit drugs are a killer with consequences that will devastate lives forever.

A 25-year-old man, who is suspected to have been dealing drugs inside the venue, was amongst those hospitalised following the Saturday event. After being detained by security and handed over to the police, his behaviour made them think that he had consumed the drugs in his possession, a total of 12 snap-bags. He remained in critical condition for days afterwards but has since recovered.

A 32-year-old woman was hospitalised after taking what is believed to have been a small amount of drugs with her friend at the Friday 04th October event. She fell into a coma however has since been making a recovery and although she remains in hospital, she is now sitting up and talking. Her friend remained unharmed.

The drugs which are believed to have killed Mr. Bonnie were in powder form and police are currently testing them to determine what they are.

Chief Superintendant Mark Roberts said, “After the tragic events of Friday night it almost defies belief that drug dealers would continue to target this venue and equally that people would risk their lives by taking drugs supplied by people who have no regard whatsoever for their well being and are purely interested in making money.

“The main point to get across is you do not know what is in the drugs you are taking and the potential effects they can have.”

The police have stated that they will be speaking to the management of the Warehouse Project to review security but it is unlikely that they will be reviewing the licence of the venue which Chief Superintendent Mark Roberts has referred to as “very well run”.

A statement from the Warehouse Project website said, “Everyone at The Warehouse Project are devastated about the news and our condolences are with his family.

“The Warehouse Project are assisting the police with their ongoing enquiries surrounding the circumstances of the man’s death. They have suggested that there may have been a bad batch of ecstasy in circulation as others who attended last night’s event are also unwell.

“The Warehouse Project operates a zero tolerance policy with regards to drugs. However if you have taken something and start to feel unwell please tell a member of staff.”

In a press conference last Wednesday, 2nd October, the Warehouse Project revealed that they are now working on groundbreaking drug-testing scheme in association with the Home Office and drugs charity The Loop.

Any drugs which are confiscated or voluntarily handed over will now be tested on-site to find what they consist of. Messages can then be sent out via social media to anyone who may be at the event to inform them if any drugs appear to be tainted.

Sacha Lord-Marchionne, a representative for the Warehouse Project, talked about the rising dangers of recreational club drugs.

“Drug use is of course widespread amongst young people in clubs, festivals and music events all over the country, every weekend. It is an issue we plan for carefully and in close collaboration with the police.”

“We put various measures in place at the events to both minimise the number of people using drugs at the venue and, as best we can, to look after those who have taken something and are feeling unwell.”

On question of having facilities where people could take their drugs to get them tested without fear of arrest he told the press, “We can’t legislate. The government has to legislate. Whether or not it is something we would support is up for debate because that would be condoning drug use which, of course, we don’t. ”

Mr. Lord-Marchionne insisted upon the importance of providing as safe a venue as possible for club-goers, “We have about 5,000 customers and if it isn’t happening they are not going to stay in, they are going to go elsewhere.

“Ninety nine per cent of other places don’t have private police on the door, don’t have drug sniffer dogs, don’t search everybody and don’t have paramedics on site.”

“My argument is this is a safer environment for customers to be in than the majority of other places.”

The club have said that they have since stepped up security, sniffer dogs and paramedics at the venue. They have also introduced an on-site doctor and are considering the implementation of more air-conditioning.